May 9, 2011

Navigating News Online

Twitter

Updated May 11, 2011

Despite its growth and the amount of attention it receives, the micro-blogging service Twitter appears at this point to play a relatively small role in sharing of links to news sources. Of the top 21 sites for which there were data, Twitter showed up as referring links to just nine. And for all but one of those nine, Twitter sent only about 1% of total traffic.

While these Twitter numbers are clearly small, it is important to note that they reflect traffic coming directly from the website www.twitter.com. Third party applications, such as Tweetdeck, are not included in these Nielsen measures. Nielsen says there are two reasons for this. First these applications are not browser-based programs. Second, most of these types of applications do not route traffic through Twitter.com. Dozens of such third party applications exist. Many offer the same functions for other social networks such as Facebook, as well as for Twitter, though most of the usage tends to be tied to Twitter. The amount of traffic these applications account for is not clear but third party estimates put the figure somewhere around 40% of all the traffic that goes through a Twitter server.[1] (Links sent through a URL shortener such as “bit.ly” are counted in Nielsen’s Twitter.com figure.)